Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Apr 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Time to Forget the Past?

tom_honig_sMy grandmother had so little interest in the past that it used to frustrate me beyond belief. Here was a woman who was born in the era of horse-drawn carriages and she lived long enough to witness man’s landing on the moon.

I longed to hear her stories about horses delivering ice in San Francisco, or even what it was like to prevent her son—my father—from an early death in the influenza epidemic of 1919. Or anything at all from her rich background

But she had no interest in the “good old days.” Instead, she preferred to talk about how she didn’t trust Richard Nixon, or even more—why I wasn’t getting better grades in college.

“History means nothing,” she once told me. “Look at the Romans. They still talk about how great their civilization was. I’ve been there and it means nothing. What have they done lately?”

Her pique would reach new heights if she were alive today. Nostalgia permeates our public dialogue and she would not like it one little bit.

First, you have the conservatives. Grandma would have had little tolerance for today’s Republicans, the ones who want to go back in time to a more sedate social order. It was a simpler time, but that’s just code for inequality and prejudice, something that grandma would have never accepted.

Or, they constantly invoke the name of Ronald Reagan, whose policies in the 1980s seemed like a throwback even then.

But then there’s the other side. Call it Liberal Nostalgia, a most surprising development in our political system.

During this most upsetting period of political gridlock, Democrats couldn’t keep from wishing to go back to another day—the days of 90 percent income taxes, of big government. Poor Barack Obama – he’s been such a disappointment to those who thought he’d be the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt. Or Lyndon Johnson. Or John F. Kennedy. Or even Dwight D. Eisenhower, that caretaker of the ’50s.

As journalist Michael Barone wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “Liberals pine for what I call America’s Midcentury moment. It was the product of World War II, lasting from 1940 until the mid-1960s when the wartime experience wore off and the emerging baby boomers led culture and politics in another direction.”

That’s the fix we’re in. Republicans are fixated on Ronald Reagan and the ’80s – which itself was a period of nostalgia. Democrats are harkening back to FDR and JFK and LBJ.

My grandma would not like this. “What are you going to do today or tomorrow?”

The past, she would say, is over and done with.

Santa Cruz folks, in particular, are particularly reluctant to give up the past. No-growth activists don’t want any new sources of water, and they demand that the government not even consider a technology such as desalination.

Or, they want to deny the need for a wider Highway 1—it should remain the same four-lane highway that’s been around for 60 years. There are even those who would have you not tear down a dilapidated apartment building called the La Bahia on Beach Street.

I probably have more sympathy for this attitude than grandma would have. In her world, the future was welcoming, a place of excitement. What was there to fear?

That’s not how people are today. The future now seems scary. There’s no guarantee that things are going to get better.

The irony is that our lives have gotten better as time has gone by. We have a technological and information revolution. We have iPods and iPads and smart phones. Everybody owns a television— or five—and we can pick up cheap food at a farmers’ market. My grandma had to do her laundry on a washboard – but today it’s all done with the press of a button.

Why are we so worried about the future? Why are liberals and conservatives both yearning to go back to another era?

I think my grandma would grab us all by the ear—one at a time—and give us a lecture. It would go something like this: “Do something with your life. There’s more opportunity now than ever before. Education is available to anyone who wants it. I never had the chance to go to college, but more people do today. Stop being scared of everything. The future holds good things if you want them. Stop crying about change. Stop living in the past.”


Contact Tom Honig at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or check out his online news page at tomhonig.com

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by Murray Burns, September 15, 2011
I think you've hit it, Tom...more columns about Grandma Wallerstein!
...
written by Larry I. Wallerstein, September 15, 2011
My first thought is to wonder how you went from being a Wallerstein to being a Honig. It seems that there is a story there, all by itself.

I like your grandmother's philosophy. Wherever we're going, we have things to do. As my Utah buddies say: "Get 'er done". Time to move on.

...
written by gomez, September 13, 2011
I think I like your granny.
she was right, it is amazing how people are afraid to change themselves.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?